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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Broccoli Salsa & More Ways To Love Broccoli

A broccoli veggie mix, ready to spoon into a
baked potato. Photo courtesy Potatopia |
New York City.

 

We love broccoli, lightly steamed*, raw with dip, puréed as a side dish and as soup. Perhaps the most famous words ever said about broccoli were from our 41st president, George H.W. Bush, and they were not an endorsement:

“I do not like broccoli,” said the president at a 1990 news conference. “And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it.* And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli. Now look, this is the last statement I’m going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that’s coming in.”

Whew! Broccoli farmers of America did more than wince!

 
That same year, Johns Hopkins University published a cancer study showing that broccoli prevented the development of tumors by 60% and helped reduce the size of the tumor by 75%. But when you’re younger and less health-concerned, what you hear is: “If the president won’t eat broccoli, I don’t have to eat it.”

If you’re not a fan, chop raw broccoli florets finely and add the broccoli to mixed diced vegetables, salsa, sour cream, Greek yogurt or other base—possibly with garlic, green onions, chives or other flavors you like that reduce the prominence of the broccoli. Then, enjoy it in baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, on fish, chicken, rice, etc. Save the stems to enjoy as crudités, steamed as a side veg or puréed into soup.

*Perhaps Dorothy Walker Bush overcooked the broccoli. There’s nothing worse than overcooked cruciferous veggies: the same cancer-inhibiting, sulfur-containing compounds (glucosinolates) are released by long heating in the most unpleasant, odoriferous way. We wouldn’t eat overcooked broccoli either.

 

WHY IS BROCCOLI SO GOOD FOR YOU?

The Brassicaceae family of vegetables (arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, cress, daikon, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed, rutabaga and turnip) contain powerful antioxidants that prevent the build-up of destructive, disease-engendering free radicals.

Studies show that broccoli and its cruciferous cousins aid with alkalinization (making the body less acidic), bone health, cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction, detoxification (neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants), digestion (high in fiber), heart health, lowering blood sugar, reducing allergy reactions and inflammation, and much more. Plus, all that fiber helps to curve overeating.

Can you name a food that does more for you?

Broccoli is one of the most “potent” members of the family. So if you like it, eat more. If you’re not a fan, try:

 

Have fun with broccoli, shown here in both purple and conventional green. The green pointy veggie is Romanesco broccoli, also called Roman cauliflower. Check farmers markets and specialty produce stores for these beauties. Photo courtesy The Fat Radish | New York City.

 

And never, ever overcook it (see the footnote above). But if you do, here are two remedies we found online:

  • Add other flavors. Toss the broccoli with olive oil, garlic and chopped olives, capers, or whatever you have on hand.
  • Make broccoli soup. Per head of cooked broccoli, cook some carrots, about 1/4 the volume of the broccoli. Sauté a medium onion with fresh thyme and 3 large garlic cloves; use butter, olive oil or a mix. In a separate pot, add 2 cups of chicken broth and 3/4 cup of any milk or half-and-half. Add some flour to thicken. Simmer, then add in the cooked broccoli and carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste; simmer as needed and puréed with an immersion blender. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar or Gruyère (or, you can stir the cheese into the soup).
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